During the Gators' game against the Stetson Hatters on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Ashley Ray

Skylar Wallace Leads Gator Softball To 13-4 Victory Over Georgia

In a battle of the SEC softball heavyweights, the Florida Gators came out on top on Friday evening at home against the Georgia Bulldogs in a game featuring two top 25 teams.  The Gators can thank their superstar shortstop Skylar Wallace for that.  UF rode its high-powered hitting to a 13-4 win over the Bulldogs.

Wallace had a statement performance in perhaps Florida’s biggest game of the year to date. She belted out a pair of home runs to put Florida in the driver’s seat early on. Eventually, she knocked out what proved to be the game-winning homer in the sixth inning as well. Wallace ended up finishing 4-for-4 at the plate with seven RBIs.

Sam Roe went 2-for-2 at the plate and scored three runs for the Gators. Avery Goelz, Sarah Longley and Kendra Falby also chipped in with a combined total of five RBIs for Florida.

Elizabeth Hightower got the start in the circle for Florida. Pitching for 4.1 innings, she allowed six hits, five walks and four runs while striking out four batters. Rylee Trlicek relieved her in the fifth inning to finish off the Bulldogs. Trlicek spent 1.2 innings in the circle, only giving up two hits, one walk and zero runs.

The Skylar Wallace Show

The first two innings of the game had Wallace’s name all over it. After a scoreless first inning for the Bulldogs, Wallace entered the batter’s box to lead off for the Gators. She saw 10 pitches before finally seeing one that she liked. Wallace swung for the fences, and she sent a ball into the parking lot across the street. Florida now had a 1-0 lead.

Apparently not satisfied, Wallace returned to the plate looking to do more damage in the following inning. Roe had led off the inning with a single and eventually scored on a Goelz groundout. Katie Kistler now sat at third, having made it on base via a Georgia error.

Once again, Wallace took her time in finding the right pitch. Facing a full count, she blasted the ball into right field. The crowd immediately rose to their feet. Wallace held up her right hand in triumph as she rounded the corner at first. Georgia’s right fielder did not even need to turn around to chase it. The ball was already long gone. Skylar Wallace had now homered in back-to-back at-bats.

“The first one, I kept fouling pitches off, and I was like ‘Okay, I’m getting a little tired of doing the same thing, let’s try to do something different,'” Wallace said. “I ended up getting lucky with that one, I got a good piece of it and drove it out.”

“It was 0-for-0, a new at-bat the second time,” she continued. “[I did] the same thing, I kept controlling what I could control. I knew they were going to throw balls in the zone and out of the zone, so I just wanted to make sure it was in the zone that I could hit.”

A Rocky Fifth Inning Shakes Things Up

Roe led off the bottom of the fourth inning with another hard-hit single to land on first. She then advanced to second on a knock down the middle from Goelz. Wallace then stepped back into the batter’s box and picked up another RBI. She cracked a ball into center field that allowed Roe to score her second run of the game.

While Roe played a major role in Florida’s victory on Friday with the amount of runs she scored, she gave a lot of the credit to her teammates for being able to drive her in. She singled Skylar Wallace out as a prime example of this in Friday’s game.

“It’s amazing getting to play behind her, honestly,” Roe said. “No matter how many outs are on the board, she gets the momentum going, and she keeps it going, and I absolutely love that. She fires me up so much.”

Goelz ended up scoring on a Georgia fielding error to extend the Florida lead to 6-0. Charla Echols then walked to load the bases for the Gators. However, they could not capitalize on this opportunity, as a swinging strikeout in the following at-bat left all three runners stranded.

Now the Bulldogs had some momentum on their side, and they built on it fast. In the top of the fifth inning, they knocked in three consecutive doubles to cut the Gators’ lead down to 6-4. Hightower retired from the circle after surrendering three hits and a walk, which all turned into Georgia runs.

Trlicek allowed a double to the first batter she faced, but quickly forced two outs right after to prevent any more bleeding for Florida.

Gators Wrap Up The W

The Gators responded with two more runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Longley belted a single into left center to score Pal Egan, who had made it on base via a walk. A hit from Emily Wilkie and a walk from Wallace then loaded the bases.

Kendra Falby proceeded to hit a ground ball to the Georgia pitcher. Falby hustled towards first base as the pitcher made the throw. To the crowd’s disbelief, she was called out. However, a brief review from the umpires led to the call being reversed. Falby had driven home another run for UF, who now led 8-4.

With just two innings remaining, the Gators had already survived their brief fifth inning stumble. After getting back on their feet, Florida remained in the driver’s seat for the rest of the night. Trlicek only allowing one hit in the top of the sixth inning before forcing two swift put outs to prevent any more Georgia runs.

By the bottom of the inning, the Gators were ready to put the Bulldogs out of their misery. After a single from Egan and walks from Longley and Roe, the bases were once again loaded. Goelz hit a single down the middle to score two runs, clearing the way for a potential walk-off.

Now up to bat; Skylar Wallace. This time, she did not waste much time at the plate. With the count at 2-1, Wallace blasted a hit into the heart of center field and over the fence. Ballgame. Wallace had just secured her third home run of the game, and the Gators had just clinched a 13-4 run-rule victory.

Up Next For The Gators

The Gators and Bulldogs will return to Katie Seashore Pressly Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m. Florida will look to clinch a series victory while Georgia will look to even things up. Either way the wind blows, both squads have plenty riding on this weekend’s action.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

Check Also

Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: Former Florida Standout Does Us Proud

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that was all about golf. Playing, …